Sheriff’s Dept. to increase highway patrols for Memorial Day weekend


The Sheriff’s Department will increase DUI enforcement, and highway and beach patrols during the Memorial Day weekend, while A Safer Pacific Coast Highway kicks off its campaign for highway safety.

By Jimy Tallal / Special to the Malibu Times

As the three-day holiday weekend approaches, the local Sheriff’s station and a local highway safety group gear up to increase enforcement and safety precautions, starting with a DUI checkpoint on Pacific Coast Highway this Friday evening.

Sgt. Phil Brooks of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department Station confirmed that the checkpoint would be conducted and also said the Memorial Day weekend will be the start of increased highway patrols. In addition, a “congestion task force” will work to break up gridlock in places where traffic tends to back up, particularly at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Westward Beach Road.

Also, law enforcement agencies throughout California, including the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, will be looking for drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts as part of the 2010 “Click it or Ticket” mobilization that began this week and will be in effect through June 6. This year, fines and fees have increased to $142 for first-time adult seat belt violators. For children under the age of 16, the fine is now $445 for a first time offense.

“Keep your friends and family safe by buckling up no matter where you’re going,” Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Captain Joseph Stephen said. “We will be looking for motorists throughout the area who are not buckling up. It’s not just about avoiding tickets; it’s about keeping the ones you care about safe.”

The Sheriff’s Department will also kick off its seasonal summer Beach Team Patrol on Friday, with deputies on the sand at Zuma Beach and other county beaches. Some of the beach team will patrol on ATVs, while others may be on foot or even horseback. These deputies enforce beach regulations by handing out tickets to beachgoers for infractions relating to consuming alcoholic beverages, smoking and dogs on the beach, etc. County Lifeguard Captain Simon Snyder said the Sheriff’s beach patrols are a huge help, allowing lifeguards to stay focused on people in the water rather than on rule enforcement. He laughed when recalling an old lifeguard bumper sticker that read, “Drinkers are Sinkers.” In all seriousness, though, Snyder said that’s why alcoholic beverages aren’t allowed on county beaches-an intoxicated person swimming in the ocean has a much higher chance of drowning than a sober one.

This Thursday at 10 a.m., the A Safer Pacific Coast Highway, or ASPCH, grassroots coalition will launch its summer safety advisory to kick off the message of safe driving on the highway in Malibu from Memorial Day throughout the busy summer traffic months. The group’s organizers plan to conduct a brief program at Zuma Beach across from Trancas Market that includes Teri Love, whose son Tyler was killed on the highway while riding a motorcycle that was hit by a driver making a U-turn. Keith Patrick Naylor was also killed. Both were 22 when they died. Lost Hills Sheriff’s Malibu liaison Lt. Tracy DeMello, Malibu City Council and Public Safety Commission representatives, and Malibu Middle School representative Isaac Vandor will also speak at Thursday’s event.

The National Safe Boating Council kicked off its annual campaign to promote safe boating and use of life jackets with National Safe Boating Week May 22-28. They report that in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 520 boating accidents resulting in 45 deaths in California. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 90 percent of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing life jackets. The boating council stresses that “the bulky orange life jackets most people are used to have been replaced with innovative new options that fit any body type and are made for a number of boating activities.”

There are very few public events planned for Malibu or the immediate area during the Memorial Day weekend. The one exception is the 37th annual Topanga Days Country Fair in the town of Topanga, located at 1440 N. Topanga Blvd., which runs Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily with arts, crafts, kid zone, live music, including a performance by Canned Heat on Saturday, activities, contests, dozens of vendors and entertainment. Proceeds benefit the Topanga Community Center.

Malibu businesses in general seem to be gearing up for the start of the summer season this weekend. The Clout retail store put up a new “sign” (a masked mannequin in a pick-up parked next to the highway), local florists are showing Memorial Day flower arrangements online, and the Malibu Beach RV Park posted summer rates. Kat Hakim, who takes reservations at the Malibu Beach Inn, said the hotel is 70 percent booked for the three-day weekend as of Tuesday, but she expects it to be 100 percent booked by Friday. “Everybody waits until the last minute [to make reservations],” she said.